My Articles

Brief History of the World, and of World War 2
by Carl R. Littmann (7-1-2003, Part I)

My ‘Qualifications’: ~None

‘Safe Harbor’ Statement (i.e., a disclaimer):

As I discuss “Pearl Harbor” and other historical topics; don’t depend on all my statements being errorless—((any more than Pearl Harbor’s “safeness” could be guaranteed during World War 2, (WW2).)) So that’s my “Safe Harbor” disclaimer.

My article contains “backward-looking” statements; and my memory can also error, regarding what I read, or saw on TV, etc. Fortunately, you can also search the Internet to confirm facts or to get other opinions and excellent articles. I will sometimes fail to make “history make sense”; but that is partly because humans are just too complicated--in my opinion.

Scope and Aim: (may click forward to Brief History of the World)

There are many long books on World War 2. But one drawback is that so much still remains secret, censored, distorted or even intentionally lost (after 55+ years). Thus, even after reading 10,000 pages of that; readers still might not achieve an understanding or great perspective! Also, rare is the author or country that can be objective about their own nation’s imperfections. I wish to avoid those traps.

At the other extreme; there are “non-detailed”, compressed timelines such as:

u/v/1942, Allies lost battles A, B, C ..…
x/y/1943, Allies won battles D, E, F ..…

This leaves the intelligent reader wondering what we don’t see, that caused the turn-around in history (like the non-visible, which “Laotse” use to sense.) Although I use a “timeline” format, I usually provide a short overview to give it prospective. But sometimes I will also expound at length on a seemingly small event, because it will expose something significant behind the scenes, which will prove so important later. Or it will correct a fundamental misunderstanding about history. I think some great tragedies have occurred in the latter 20th century, and into the 21st; partly because these misunderstandings were not corrected, and even sometimes propagated to enhance narrow political and commercial goals. Where there is an important and repeating “theme”, relating separate events; I will try to highlight the unifying theme. Perhaps I will find some things; think some things; and say some things, that are new. (Incidentally, the 20th century pertains to years 1900-1999, even though the prefix “20” does not appear even once. Sometimes, an event will evoke a “diatribe” from me, which the reader may skip or read.

Often, a history course will spend, say, 1000 minutes on relatively old history, leaving only 1 minute left for World War 2. (How strange that some “history” teachers can’t manage their own “time” well!) I may be at the other extreme; I will try to spend only a few minutes on all the world’s old history, and about 100 minutes on WW2.

Sometimes it is necessary to “give the devil its due”. For example, Hitler delivered “effective” speeches, despite their hateful content and harm it caused. I would say that many German generals were “technically more able” than some of ours, although their specialized talent was harnessed toward the negative. And when I heavily criticize some of our generals and leaders, I don’t claim I would have done a tenth as well, (despite my perhaps 20-20 “hindsight”).

Brief History of the World: (may click forward to “Prelude to World War 1 & 2”)

There are many “theories of history” and of the forces driving it. Some are based upon peoples’ social needs; social communication, sharing thoughts with family and friends, or feelings or love. And/or need for each human to feel “unique”. And/or need to seek an effective and satisfying livelihood. Relatedly, some are based on a human’s need to help make parents feel proud; perhaps to make one’s own “contribution” to the species or earth; perhaps to propagate and raise a family which brings satisfaction, pride and progress. And/or, perhaps, to be remembered for something or make some mark. Some are based on humans’ need to come to terms with abstract, spiritual, theological, cosmological, and/or “life-after-death” issues, or to relate to the whole of nature. Some are based upon “materialism”, pleasures and/or satisfying basic instincts, or even some humans’ drive to prove their own physical and mental dominance and superiority over others. Or, maybe in some cases, to wildly pursue the hobby they are “crazy” about.

I will just add this: Assume that we are all rather recent evolutionary products of the chimpanzee kingdom, and their “tribal-like” society. Then it comes as little surprise that such developments as the native Americans; (with their chiefs, elders, spiritual leaders, medicine men, and other specialists) fared relatively well; and without harming their environment. And without environmental damage coming back to haunt them. In Africa, something like that is also portrayed in the movie, “The gods must be Crazy” (i.e., in its more serious scenes).

The point is this: There are no guarantees that humans can adjust successfully to the “structure” of the modern “super-City-State”, or to the super-large Country, (governed by the powerful, centralized government, strong lobbies, special interests, politicians, and complexes). These are simply not the conditions under which ancient humans proved that they could live (over periods of hundreds of thousands of years). And cope effectively! Social, political, economic, and other relationships have become quite different in the last “few” thousands of years. And to what extend modern technological progress and communications can restore and substitute for what use to work successfully —has yet to be proved. Maybe it just aggravates it. And I think that whatever modern institutions or icons were supposed to substitute for the ancient high “spiritual holy person”-- have often turned out to be the “pits”, (too frequently). For example, prior to WW2; more enlightened leadership would have been very helpful. (Some notable, helpful leadership did emerge after WW2 and some progress was made in equal rights and tolerance.)

A typical society has only persevered admirably for a relatively short span of its long existence (say 100 years out of its 1000 years). Otherwise, rather much destruction, needless aggression, and “negativity” (as exemplified by the Greek, Alcibiades) seems to have been the general rule, including up to the present. Our species is still likely evolving, but perhaps too slowly for the changes we are causing.

It is exactly with that background (of militarism, destruction of nature, power politics, expansion, oppression, empire-building--and only brief periods of constructive humanism); that we now begin the next topic, “The Prelude to World War 2, Etc.” ((And we include with it, a short timeline up to World War 1, (WW1), that war-- /t/o/ /e/n/d/ /a/l/l/ /w/a/r/s/---to promote future wars!)) And, of course, my timelines can’t contain everything important that happened.

Sorry I spent as long as one full page to describe the “History of the World”. I think that much of the ‘recent’ human leadership in the world and its ‘accomplishments’--isn’t worth a single line!

PRELUDE to WORLD WAR 2 (and also a prelude to World War 1):

1776 to 1812  

United States (Colonies) win their independence from Britain.
Some human rights are expanded, somewhat, in the long process.

One very important event, helping the U.S. colonies win independence from England, was the defeat of a significant English fleet near Yorktown Virginia, by a French fleet. (I can not imagine how the colonies, without foreign naval aid, could have ever prevented the English fleets from simply rescuing all English troops, whenever endangered, at Yorktown, or near the coast. Nor from blockading Colonial commerce, and raiding and dominating any point on the Colonial coast.) French troops were also unloaded from the ships to aid the colonies in their struggle. ((Perhaps, “french-fried potatoes” should be called “freedom fries” after all; but for vastly different reasons than some angry Congressmen believe, (in their recent rush to find simplistic puppet-like “Allies”).)) And our “War-of-1812” (against Britain) would have been more difficult and gained much less—had France not also been fighting Britain in Europe at that time, (in my opinion).

After Washington defeated British troops at Yorktown, he did not hold the surrendered troops as captive while waiting for the war to end and a peace treaty to be signed. A gentleman’s agreement with the British (Cornwallis), was enough so that the British could take those British troops anywhere else, thereafter. That is--there was only the hope that those “surrendered” British troops would honor their commitment not to resume fighting against Americans or French troops for the remainder of that war (which was still being fought elsewhere).

Later, (during the Texas War for Independence); General Houston would repeat a somewhat similar “honor system” with General Santa Anna. ((General Houston probably did not know that some Mexicans had earlier killed Davy Crockett, while Crockett was likely still Santa Anna’s prisoner. (But perhaps, still later, Walt Disney may not have realized that either). But my point is this: Generally, such “semi-humane, ‘semi-rational’ war rules”, (as worked out between Washington/ Cornwallis, and Houston/Santa Anna) would no longer be applied in the centuries to follow. (Resulting in added tragedy, in those later centuries!)

Optional: The French revolution started in 1789, and was eventually taken over by Napoleon. It did not work out well, in my opinion. I think that what Napoleon really tried to achieve was this: An equal right for all Europeans, regardless of their background, etc., to work their way up to “Dictator”, under a unified, unprejudiced code. In contrast to that; the king of England and others were greatly shocked when President Washington retired, after two terms as president—instead of proclaiming himself “king”.

Napoleon lacked Washington’s “circumspection” and respect for some degree of “government by a semi-democratic process”. Also, Napoleon lacked Washington’s determination to find a balance between the realm of the wishful and the long-term sustainable, for the lasting good of the populace. ((Thomas Paine would have rated my opinion of Washington as much too favorable, and Paine later became an “outcast” from most American leaders of Washington’s period. And Jefferson also became an outcast from President Washington following some episodes, beyond the scope of this article.)) A reminder here, that one big success of President Jefferson was the “Louisiana Purchase” from France ~ 1803.

1838 to 1839   The “Trail of Tears”; the Cherokees Indians loose, and the U.S. expands; and this tragedy occurs in the case of many other Indian tribes, also.

The U.S. expands and its population grows. (Gold is discovered; cotton plantations expand; etc., etc. Indian land is taken);. This occurs too many times to list here.
In the “Trail of Tears”, the Cherokee people were ordered out of Georgia, Tennessee, and other areas, and into Oklahoma; resulting in the loss of ~250,000 lives along the way. ((Davy Crockett was concerned--that the growing power of the plantation system with its slave system—would harm both frontiersman and Indian alike). His attempt, to help moderate and rectify that harm, resulted in the premature end to his own political career. He set off for Texas, but he could not ultimately escape the great tornado-like funnel of the society of which he was a part. Later, Indians (like Chief Seattle) wondered whether anything positive in the world would ever arise from these seemingly so unnatural, destructive changes in the Americas.))
1840   Britain’s Opium War against China; the expansion of British imperialism, and special privilege, including in India. Britain “wins” Hong Kong in 1841 from China. (Further British clashes with China would expand British territories and privileges in China still more. Also, the Britain’s empire expanded over much of the world, as time passed.)
1845 to 1848   U.S. expands into California and Texas; U.S. war with Mexico, (Lincoln opposes the war.) Texas is admitted to the U.S. as a “slave” state.

United States “Opens Japan Up” (for trade between the U.S. and Japan) “Commodore” Matthew Perry and his squadron of ships coerced that.

((Shortly before the Pearl Harbor attack (1941); the U.S. attempted, in a sense, to “Close Japan Back Up” (i.e., that is, the U.S. cut off its strategic exports to Japan which were being used to help fuel Japan’s military expansion.)

Optional: Matthew Perry’s naval rank of “Commodore” has been mostly used for historical and honorary ranking purposes since about 1899, and in recent years has been obsoleted. It probably arose from an old British tradition: A rank or title was needed for an officer who was of lesser rank than “Admiral”, but who was allowed to command an entire squadron of ships, anyway. Eventually, the Army and Airforce complained that it was out-of-line for a navy officer to “jump” from “Captain” (corresponding, I guess, to Army Colonel) to regular “Rear Admiral” (corresponding to an Army 2-Star General) thereby skipping a non-existing 1-Star Admiral (corresponding to 1-Star General). So “Commodore” was gradually obsoleted; and the “Rear Admiral” designation was subdivided into a 1-Star Flag (lower half Rear Admiral) designation; and a 2-Star Flag (upper half Rear Admiral) designation.---(or something like that, I think). Navy “Admirals” are all deemed of “Flag Officer” rank; and that relates to the tradition of the main naval ship of a group (the “flagship” with the top leader) bearing a special flag indicating that stature. (Their importance being something like Army Generals).

Very roughly, we have during WW2; the “Army” ranks of: “Private”, “Corporal”, “Sergeant”, and then up to officers: “Warrant Officer”, Lieutenant”, “Captain”, “Major”, “Colonel”, “General”. The other branches of service have their own “particular order” and titles. I’m no expert on ranks. (Incidentally, Commodore Matthew Perry was the brother of Commodore “Oliver Perry”, of “War-of-1812” fame—regarding naval history.)

1854 to 1856  

Crimean War ; Russia vs. Britain , France , Turkey , etc., for control of the Black Sea, etc. Russia mostly loses


the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring Slavery Illegal.

When Congress had completed its part to get that done, Lincoln got his first good night’s sleep since the Civil War began. ((The formal United States participation in World War 2 (1941-1945) was about four months shorter than our Civil War (1861-1865). And Roosevelt and Lincoln faced remarkably similar and parallel challenges, including to get the population solidly behind the war effort. This theme (Civil War vs. WW2) will be revisited often, later in this article.))


the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, helping establish Equality of Protection under the Law.

In contrast, we shall see later, some specific laws in Hitler’s Germany eliminating some peoples’ basic rights, depending on who their ancestors were, and other arbitrary, unfair criteria.

(Even in the U.S.; I think that some bigoted judges, and a stilted, embarrassing legal system, conniving legislators, and lobbyists have sometimes gone to great lengths to evade or deny equal protection, including into the 21st Century.)

Susan Anthony objected to the 14th Amendment’s introduction of the word “Male”… voter… into the Constitution.


The Franco-Prussian War. “Germany” “wins” almost all of Alsace and much of Lorraine territories from France.

Alsace and Lorraine are areas in northeastern France, roughly south of Luxembourg and north of Switzerland. “Germany” also won “reparations”-- 5 billion francs (then equal to $1 billion). (That seems different from in the U.S. tradition, where the looser was often paid a little bit.) The money payments did not prove unmanageable for the French. But the loss of territories and nasty Prussian style helped lay the foundations for World War 1.

Optional: Germany’s clever Bismarck deliberately incited France’s leaders into the impetuous Franco-Prussian war by insulting and playing on French vanity over a rivalry in Spain. Bismarck also unified Germany in the process, and established Prussia as the dominant region of Germany. Thereafter Bismarck sought political stability, avoidance of future war adventures, and economic progress. Some emigrants, who left Germany earlier, even returned, impressed by Germany’s progress. Shortly after the Franco-Prussian war; many French (angry with their own government) set up a Paris commune. It was crushed shortly thereafter by the government of France, (trying to stabilize things after the war). The destruction of the commune increased the feeling of class separations in French society, for a long period, afterward.

1877 to 1878  

Russo-Turkish War ; Russia wins some “Balkan” territory; forfeits some to West. ((A second Balkans war (1912-1913) occurs anyway.))

1886   The Statue of Liberty, marking 100 years of U.S. independence, is dedicated in New York. (A gift from France).

In 1903, some poetry is added at its base, which starts with a hopeful vision:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land:”…..
1894 to 1895  

- The Sino-Japanese War. Japan “wins” Taiwan; and wins dominance over Korea, and wins other gains.

(I have read that clever Chinese negotiators helped manipulate the final treaty some, as to increase the chances for Japan getting into a war with Russia, thereafter. That was probably the Chinese wisdom of “using one barbarian to fight another barbarian”, i.e., to offset their own on-going military weakness.)


Henri Becquerel discovers that a Uranium compound emits very penetrating particles (or some sort of radiation).

Additional investigations indicate that what is occurring is a “nuclear”, not a chemical process; and that the emitter changes from one atom to a different atom. Becquerel and the Curies share a Nobel Prize in 1903 for their radioactivity work. Some scientists and inventors sense that there might still be some important things left to invent and discover in the 20th century, after all. Some even believe that there might continue to be a logarithmic-like growth in sciences, technology, and important inventions, in the 20th century; maybe even dwarfing the 19th century growth. (My timeline can not list all the many “inventions” from 1837 to 1937, many of which were “invented” in Europe and U.S. almost at the same time!)


Spanish-American War. U.S. “wins” the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Guantanamo Bay Naval base in Cuba.
Cuban and Philippine rebels had been fighting Spain for independence in those regions for some time. In the Philippines, the Spanish were very relieved when they got the U.S. to help arrange for them (the Spanish) to surrender to the “big” U.S., instead of to the Philippine rebels. Thus, the “proud” Spanish “saved face”. And it fit well into the U.S. government’s propaganda needs, too. The Filipino rebels, mostly under Emilo Aquinaldo, fought a two-year “Filipino- American War” (called an insurrection in the U.S.). Aquinaldo was defeated in 1901, and large numbers of Filipino fighters and civilians were killed during that war. Aquinaldo was captured by American supported troops who “pretended to be surrendering”. ((In 1942, the top Japanese generals, would keep themselves too far away from the plight of allied troops who truly wished to surrender, (for which I think the Japanese generals deserve some of the blame, anyway).))

Optional: Quite a few American “notables”, such as Mark Twain, opposed the U.S. takeover of the Philippines and called it greedy thievery (or the like). Thereafter, President Theodore Roosevelt avoided Mark Twain at semi-social events. However, Mark Twain continued to receive a very warm welcome from such notables as Rudyard Kipling, in Britain. ((It took about 2 years for the U.S. to crush the Filipino rebels. But (in my opinion), after the Filipinos were governed by the U.S. for 40 years and trained to be docile and not too independent-minded; it took the Japanese Army only 6 months to defeat both the U.S. and its Filipino army there. (Still, the U.S. administration of the Philippines was rated relatively good, overall; by some historians, likely to be knowledgeable).))

After the Spanish-American War, the Cuban rebels also considered fighting against the U.S. Government over the very disappointing loss of Guantanamo to the U.S.; but decided not to wage war over that concession. Yet, the loss of Grantanamo was a great disappointment to them.

During the Spanish-American conflict, there was also a period known as “Yellow” Journalism. Many newspapers then engaged in “sensationalism” rather than a scientific approach. And the sinking of the U.S. Battleship “Maine” was subject to such war-drumming sensationalism. The Maine’s explosion was likely due to an accidental “coal explosion” inside the ship, but it helped trigger the War. (The readers may decide how much has changed in Journalism and the media, since those days?) Incidentally, the Maine never did sink entirely, but its front settled below water into the Havana harbor mud. About 258 of its crew died, and about 100 survived. The Maine was an “armored battle cruiser” (ACR1), and was obsolete by the time it was built. Later, it was, perhaps, more accurately classified as a 2nd class battleship. ((It was poorly designed (and an embarrassing “hunk of junk” in my opinion).))


The first “viable” Submarine, made by John Philip Holland. It is powered by a gasoline engine above the surface; and batteries and an electric motor when submerged. It is 54 feet long, and sold to the Government in 1900.

(Optional): Of course, there were earlier submarines “of sorts”, such as: the “Turtle” (1776); Robert Fulton’s “Nautilus” (1800); and the Confederate “H. L. Huntley” (1862). (And some even earlier). But reliability, powering, and delivery of explosives against the enemy—had generally been a problem in all earlier attempts. Either Holland and/or General Electric referred to their early submarines as “boats”, instead of “ships”; and thus the submarines continued to be referred to as “boats”, ever since. ((By WW1 (and even more-so by WW2); submarine “boats” were being built longer and heavier than many ocean-worthy (surface) warships. But submarines continued to be termed, “boats”, anyway.))

It is interesting that the Civil War ironclad “Virginia” (i.e., a rework of the river- steamer “Merrimack”) was intentionally weighted down with a lot of extra iron loaded on to it. This was intended to cause its wooden front and back sections to remain well below the surface, (which is why you don’t see that in photos). Those wooden sections were below the water surface so that they could not be easily damaged by cannon balls. Somewhat similarly was the case for the Union’s “Monitors”; which had an even “lower profile”, above the-surface. This was to minimize their above-the-surface exposure (vulnerability); even though Monitor’s entire hull was iron-covered.

So in a sense, those partly submerged “Ironclads” used some of the same design spirit as submarines. The “Virginia” had be destroyed by the Confederates, themselves; when Union land-troops threatened to capture it. It could not escape to the ocean, because it was not an ocean-going (rough-seas) vessel; and it had too deep of “draft” for an upstream river trip (i.e., the river depth got shallower upstream). The Union’s Monitor was not a long-range vessel, nor a very ocean- worthy vessel either. Monitors had to be towed to near the battle area; and sometimes sank in the ocean while being towed.

1899 to 1902  

Boer-British War; Britain wins South Africa , and adds gold riches, etc., to her diamond interests there.

1900   Boxer Rebellion in China. Also, there is a continued competition by each “Power” to “acquire” as much territory, influence, and privilege as possible, without the other Powers resenting it too much. This is the “mood” as the 20th Century begins.

Wright Brothers make the world’s first Airplane Flight, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

My history concentrates on war; but interesting, constructive, and rewarding things often happen in peoples’ lives, between the war events. (The Wright Brothers’ biplane weighed ~700 pounds, and was about the size and weight of the “modern”, more recent “Piper Cub” airplane (a famous, versatile, and long surviving “single”-winged aircraft). The Wright’s used a 12 horsepower (“hp”) engine in their famous flight. The Cub’s 65 hp “modern” engine was not then available, nor any suitable one over 12 hp. for the Wrights.

(Optional): The brothers had studied birds, and many peoples’ work, including glider expert, Otto Lilienthal. The Wrights had an excellent open minded, patient, experimental approach. They also had much experience in their shop, with bicycle design, manufacturing, and repair. They had a good technical, scientific and math background, learned largely outside of school—that is, they did NOT graduate High School. ((Semi-humorous remarks: Times have changed vastly since then, of course; and the readers should be advised that they now need to finish High School! I think I read recently of some famous, rich computer-whiz kid who did his thing without finishing College. So nowadays, I guess its College or grad- school that one is NOT suppose to finish?))

The life-span of many people (including one of the Wright’s) was long enough to see technology advance from the invention of the airplane to the use of an airplane to drop the atomic bomb. And to also see such things as the V2 rocket, the Me262 jet plane, and the vacuum-tube computer. (Many teenagers, living when the airplane was invented, lived long enough to also see men on the Moon!)

1904 to 1905  

Russo-Japanese War. Japan defeats Russia and “wins” the southern half of Sakhalin Island (slightly north of Japan); Also, Russia is ousted from Port Arthur on the southern coast of Manchuria China and from other areas; and Japanese dominance over Korea is increased.

The power and the prestige of the Russian Emperor were weakened. Protests, and the Emperor’s response to it, further weakened the Russian emperor’s position. Some experts believe the Russian Emperor came close to being overthrown then, even before World War 1. The world was surprised by the great Japanese victories, and it established Japan as a “Big Power” in the world.

(Optional): President Theodore Roosevelt won a “Nobel Prize” for helping to negotiate the end of the Russo-Japanese War. Later, Theodore Roosevelt would pressure President Wilson to enter World War 1 much faster than even Wilson was inclined to. He would also criticize Wilson for advocating some monetary compensation to nations, which were roughed up or carved up when the U.S. determinedly began work on the Panama Canal, around 1905.

In a major naval battle of the Russo-Japanese war; Admiral Togo defeated a Russian fleet, killing ~4000 Russian sailors and capturing another ~7000. These were far higher losses than we would later suffer at Pearl Harbor in World War 2. Thus, we note that there are some “relative” advantages to having one’s ships merely settle down slightly in a Harbor’s mud, after being attacked, (i.e.,—those that aren’t blown to pieces, of course.) Note: Admiral “Togo” of the Russo-Japanese war is not the same as General “Tojo” of World War 2, nor the same as foreign minister “Togo” in WW-2.

We also note that, throughout history, there has almost always been a great unrest, (sometimes even a revolution) inside a country that “looses” a war. However, perhaps Japan was a partial exception, where there was more of an evolution, after WW2. (And, often there has been bred inside the “victorious” country—an attitude of arrogance and inappropriate conceit!) Long ago, Laotse asserted that wars were NOT good for counties! I think economic graphs (by themselves) make that very clear--especially the terrible “inflation” occurring during a war, (as well as sometime after, due to the momentum of events).


- FDA (Food and Drug Administration) established by law:

(Optional) My opinion is that the FDA is one of many government agencies or departments, established in the name of “progressiveness”, during this period. And likely, some well-meaning people and groups were actually involved with their establishment, and with so many other “regulatory agencies”, before that, and to follow. But, unfortunately, such “agencies”, etc., would often undergo a “regulatory capture” by the same powerful interests which the public feared most. So with the passage of time, the agencies would be increasingly manipulated by the narrow “interests” that would conspire against the public interests the most. Unfortunately, many government agencies would spend much of their time giving the public the “impression” that their agency was helpful, indispensable, in need of more power, and that there was no viable substitute. These agencies would often work very aggressively against the public interest. In many cases (in my opinion), they would themselves instigate a problem if it did not exist, for their own “job security”, and often with the blessing of politicians. And the government would thus manipulate and control the people, instead of visa versa.

The reader may sense that “Prohibition” (of alcoholic drinks) is not very far away. This is because so many self-styled “authorities” know better than the drafters of the Bill of Rights how dangerous a moderate alcoholic drink (around dinner) must be to everyone. (Bad for the heart, bad for circulation,...and any other …. lies that stilted theocrats, bigots, monopolistic-minded business interests, “captured” regulatory agencies, and sponsors of stilted “scientism” studies —hope you’ll believe, as they pursue their own narrow interests. ((One wonders if an attack on “the eating of an egg every few days” (i.e., because of its ‘dangerous’ cholesterol)—is next on their (junk science) agenda?))


- “Triangle Waist Co.” factory Fire kills ~141 young workers in New York.

(Optional): Keep in mind the following is my opinion, as usual: There was a partially successful “Strike-of-the-20000”, during 1909-1910 period. But there continued to exist spiteful-like rules and very harsh, hazardous conditions in many factories. ((And, of course, these conditions existed earlier: for example, after the unsuccessful strike against the Homestead Mill (Carnegie Steel) 1892, and against the Pullman Car Co.)) The government usually supported the Corporations, in “those” days, and similarly in the courtroom and in the legal system, in my opinion. Unions generally did not regain their power and more, for about 50 years.

Mark Twain and Frederick Douglass had a deep mistrust, as to how terribly many human beings would behave, if given the opportunity. At least somewhat before and after 1900--I would tend to agree--that many profiteering humans behaved quite negatively and craftily. Company bosses also sometimes pushed their power and advantage during the transition, say, between one President’s administration and the next. (In fact, some government agencies, etc., are especially crafty at increasing their position and power, during administration transitions.) Another reason that I also mention the above and other non-ideal events of history is this: So that the reader will not be shocked to find, as history unfolds, the following: That with the approach of quite a few wars—not all Americans volunteered and rushed forward to please their “lovely” politicians. Nor to defend the great progress the politicians and their establishment are thought to have made.

((Incidentally, the Triangle Co used only the upper floors of a well-constructed building housing the company. And, at least the doors were NOT all locked going up to the roof. (Others, unfortunately, were locked, in my opinion.) But regarding to the roof; some “Triangle” workers saved themselves by getting there, and then being helped to nearby roofs. And about 90 years later, it might have been a good idea to provide employee accessibility to the roofs in still- taller New York buildings, with parachutes or helicopters dropping parachutes, if too scared to dangle ropes or to land.))


- the Emperor of China is Removed, along with its “Imperial Institution”

The main Chinese leader, working for the above change for many years, was Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Yet, he realized that there lay ahead still, an extremely long, difficult road. And that was the road between the already-completed non-violent overthrow of the Emperor and the future establishment of a unified, independent, viable nation. (The end of the Manchu dynasty was not very premature, anyway, as measured by the length of traditional dynastic cycles. Expecting a period of transition, disorder, experimentation, and “warlordism” to naturally follow; Sun yielded initially to the former imperial politico-militarist Yuan Shih-kai. But, when Yuan, himself, tried to become “Emperor” (1916), Sun vigorously tried to block that. And fortunately, things had finally evolved just enough, (in still very un-unified China) to block Yuan. Yuan died shortly thereafter, very disappointed that he failed to become emperor.

China continued its transitional, un-unified course. The North sent laborers to help France and its Allies during WW1 (i.e., siding with the “allies”). Thereafter, China “put on a face” of enough unity to participate, admirably, in conferences after WW1, and in a cosmopolitan way. (That was likely not difficult for them, because almost anyone with a deep exposure to Chinese history, culture, and philosophy, must have realized the “weaknesses” and utter “degeneracy” of the “West” for long periods before, during, and after WW1, despite the West’s advanced military technology —excuse my bluntness, for brevity.)


- The Titanic (world’s largest ship) hits iceberg and sinks, killing ~1513 passengers and crew. Click for “Details and related thoughts”.

The RMS Titanic was bigger than any U.S. battleship built before WW2 began. However, before the end of WW2, the U.S. built some battleships (Iowa Class) that were just a few feet longer and few tons heavier than the Titanic. A ship’s empty (bare bones) weight is termed its “gross weight”.((The Titanic (when loaded and fueled up to do “its normal thing”) was heavier that even the “Iowa Class” battleships (after they were loaded and fueled up to do “their military thing”). The latter weight specification is known as a ship’s “full load displacement” rating.
Even the largest American WW1 and WW2 ships were built small enough to get through the Panama Canal. The period, “1905-1920”, was generally a transition time; between those ships powered with a conventional “Triple-Expansion” (3- cylinder reciprocating) Engine, which usually used coal as the fuel----and newer ships built with “Turbine Engines”, which usually used “fuel oil” instead of coal. ((The fuel oil being deemed more efficient (i.e., more energy produced per fuel weight), safer, easier to transfer, and greatly reducing the number of employees needed.))

Optional: The Titanic used coal as fuel, and mainly two “triple-expansion engines”; but it also had one turbine engine. (So the Titanic was a “hybrid”). We will later see that the U.S. Battleship Oklahoma (BB37, launched March 1914) still incorporated the “triple expansion” engine. But the U.S. Battleship Nevada (BB36, launched July 1914) incorporated the “turbine” engine. ((Sometimes the Nevada and Oklahoma are called “sister ships”, but I don’t see how they can be “sisters” when their insides (engines) are so different!)) The “gross” weights (i.e., comparing “empty” ships) were as follows: The Titanic ~46,000 tons; the Battleship Nevada or Oklahoma ( ~27,000 tons each). Each battleship was much smaller than Titanic, even though the battleships were both launched a few years after the Titanic.

Incidentally, in the name: RMS Titanic; the “R M S” prefix means Royal Merchant Ship (or Royal Mail Ship—if approved for carrying mail). A prefix “H M S” means His or her Majesty’s Ship--as usually applied to British warships. Also, note that when I give some specifications (say, for a launched ship); those specifications may not apply ten or twenty years later--after the ship (etc.) becomes further “modernized”!

Under favorable circumstances (such as on a non-rough lake or when a ship is handled extra cautiously); its “full load displacement” can be considerably exceeded without sinking the ship, (even though the word “full” was used). Thus, another term: “dead weight capacity”, exists to mean the maximum total possible weight of all the “stuff” that can be loaded onto the empty ship without sinking it (under good, moderate conditions). ((As inferred; “dead weight” includes the fuel, people, food and fresh water, ammunition, and miscellaneous goods (cargo) intended for delivery—that might be loaded on an empty ship, without necessarily sinking the ship--but it does expose it to special risks.)) But under the special emergencies of war, or on lakes; the “full load displacement” is often exceeded successfully ((even though the ship’s (maximum) “draft” (the part of the ship’s hull OK below the water) would dip still deeper than would be quite OK for rough ocean trips. ((And even though the passengers may consider their “weight” to be “living weight”; the maritime language considers passengers to be part of the “dead weight”. So I suppose the empty ship would be “living weight” (i.e., actually “gross weight”).))

Summary: a ship’s “gross weight” + all the “dead weight” possible loaded on to it without sinking it, therefore, can sometimes exceed the ship’s “full load displacement” rating (the rating OK for rough sea and general usage), but then the overload (included with all the “dead weight”) does expose a ship to special risks.

Such are the linguistic “terms” which we are exposed to, and I think it is remarkable that many people can learn anything! (When making a right turn in your car, don’t forget to first signal with your “starboard” blinker. And for a left-hand turn, your “port” blinker! My memory trick for that is to suppose that the “steersman” (i.e., the likely boss on ancient boats) was usually right handed and used his long “rudder-oar” on the right side of the ship for his convenience. So he preferred to have the left side of the boat meet the dock (or “Port”)--so that his rudder-oar did not get “pinched”. So starboard (with steerboard = ~ “starboard”) became the term for “right side”. And “port” became known as the “left side”. (No wonder my car insurance cost is so high!)

The reader may sense that our timeline is approaching 1914 and the start of the First World War. And that shortly after its start; the U.S. would allow itself to be sucked into it, (with “no strings attached”). Some readers may question if that is possible, because such a war requires an extraordinary amount of money to be raised long-term; and that sort of thing requires new institutions. Well, in my opinion, “brilliant” politicians discovered their solution… and here comes their cute plans for you ………


Income Tax--the 16th Amendment. And it contains such wording to allow its application to “income”…“from whatever source derived”.

In my opinion, that wording: “from whatever source derived” could be construed by an opportunist politician to mean that taxes are owed to the government by “an infant who was breast-fed”. Or by “a teenager who receives good advice from a parent”. Or by “one neighbor who does a small something for another”. In fact, it seems to me, impossible for good people to live normal lives without likely breaking the law, by failure to keep lists of all the little things they do or the nice things done for them. Perhaps, that is one reason why Albert Einstein said, “the hardest thing to understand is the (federal) income tax”. It is true that an “Income tax” (of sorts) had been used in the U.S. for the emergencies of war, before 1913. (But the timing, wording, context, and nature of the 1913 “beast” departed much from the prior “animals”, in my opinion).

But, perhaps, the worst thing about the “new” income tax was that it would become a license for an ever-growing, big, expensive, inefficient, Adventuristic government! Perhaps, big government would only be efficient at propagandizing for its own indispensability, and the necessity of its basic, growing, difficult, and illogical tax schemes. Soon (`1916) government would add an “inheritance tax” to its tax-grabbing hand, and eventually a gift tax, (as one unlimited and escalating contradiction begot another). As usual, the width of the tax-catching “umbrella” would increase with time, and with rotten holes developing near the top. ((Although I personally regard the scope of the 16th Amendment as limited by other Constitutional amendments and clauses; I don’t think that the 16th Amendment, itself, makes that clear. (I.e., that is, that its weaknesses should not be further twisted to victimized more people). In any event, others may disagree with my “pro-taxpayer” interpretations, anyway)).

The below diatribe is Optional; and reader may skip to End of Part I

The reader may note that previous “Amendments” were generally in the spirit of….the “Government will Not ‘take’ away from the people, XYZ”. Or that Government will see that people receive equal protection or rights… Or to protect a person’s basic human rights from usurpation by another…. But in 1913, we have added to the Constitution a new spirit of: “The government Will take from whomever, whatever! And that “whomever” may be a captive to the red-tape record-keeping for nearly all his/her acts, in perpetuity, it seems!

Propaganda was required in order to the “sell the 16th amendment to the public”. Propaganda argued, in effect, that since it was then only to “hit” the upper ~2% (the top rich people) and even then at only a ~7% top rate—that that would not soon change to hit the much less affluent even harder, and at higher rates. That is, it would be a magic bullet by which some good would be reaped from a few whose over-greediness had harmed the many. And that is how some newspaper cartoons really caricaturized it!

But in fact, (as many “at the top” may have already sensed and maybe encouraged); the amendment did not provide percent limits as to how broadly the tax would be spread across the American society, (say, eventually to 70% of “non-top” income earners). Nor set any upper limit on its rate. Nor did it attempt to prevent such tricks or distortions, as may arise from, “inflation”, capital gains, and clever ways to define “income”—from hitting the “lowest” the hardest, and perhaps from missing some at the “top” altogether. Here we note that Einstein did not state that no federal taxes of any kind made any sense to him; ((but rather (just) the “income tax”)). And I presume that he, like some other thinkers, just believed that there are other more appropriate things that can be taxed instead, and in such reasonable manner as not to be a red-tape, knit-picking problem.

General Rommel once said that he would teach the “inexperienced, green” Americans a thing or two in North Africa (before they could link up with the British, in early 1943, in WW2), and he did! Somewhat similarly, many naïve Americans, who thought they could just naively hand over to their government--an overly permissive taxing mandate, (without workable defense measures, in case it would be turned around against them)--also would learn a thing or two, perhaps the hard way. Or worse still, I think that (because of many related misunderstandings and other factors); the problem of trying to achieve an efficient, humane government would continue be a very difficult one, indefinitely.

---end of “Prelude to WW1 and WW2”---

------also END of Part I, “Brief History of the World”------

Forward to: Part 2 (1914-1937)

Back to: Beginning of Article

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Carl R. Littmann

(Readers’ comments always welcome)
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